Don't Be Surprised! See Who Has the Right to Check Your Credit Score


Learn About Credit ScoreWith increased consumer awareness about the importance of a good credit score, regularly viewing a credit report, and the negative or positive impact that a credit score can have on your finances, it's practical to want to know who else can see your credit score. Your credit score and credit report are snapshots of how you handle your affairs and key indicators of your risk to a lender. So who has the right to check your credit score?

Any people or organizations who have a "legitimate business need" can check your credit score. The phrase "legitimate business need" casts a broad net over who can access your credit score, and people and entities that fall under the category include:

  • Current and prospective employers (with your consent)

  • Child support enforcement agencies at the state and local levels

  • Any government agency (how's that for a broad net?)

  • Landlords

  • Credit card companies

  • Mortgage and auto loan lenders

  • Insurance companies

In short, anyone who's considering extending credit of any kind to you can check your credit report and credit score.

Can a Credit Report Be Used for Any Purposes Beyond Determining My Creditworthiness?

Sadly, the answer is yes. TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — the three main credit reporting agencies in the U.S. — are allowed by law to create and sell lists to credit and insurance companies for the purposes of "pre-approved" insurance and credit offers. In addition, pretty much all of us, good credit report or not, have received many unsolicited offers in the mail for pre-approved credit cards, auto insurance, etc. It's one of the ways they market their products.

However, credit reporting agencies may not compile and sell information taken from credit reports for the purposes of direct marketing. (Credit agencies have done this in the past, but the inevitable abuses of using credit reports in this way led to a ruling against these practices issued by the Federal Trade Commission in March 2000.) However, there is some personal information that cannot be included in your credit report by law, including:

  • Medical records without your consent

  • Age, race, or marital status if the credit request comes from a prospective employer

  • Debts that are more than seven years old

  • Notices of Chapter 11 bankruptcy more than ten years old

  • And some other pieces of personal information that can vary from one state to another

It's important to remember that each time a person or agency requests a copy of your credit report, that request is noted and included in the report. If too many requests are made in a brief period of time — for instance, if you applied for a store charge card or a car loan, rented a new apartment, filled out a credit card application, etc. — it can negatively affect your credit score. From a lender's perspective, that many requests for credit indicate desperate behavior. More than anything, you have the right to check your credit files, so be sure to exercise your rights by obtaining your credit scores and copies of your credit report regularly.

 

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